Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yet Another Busy Day at the NCRS

So yesterday (Wednesday) was another busy day to take advantage of the nice weather.  Like moving the wheat harvest operation over to Farm 7.
OK, this is pretty lame.  But you have to admit that the chrome on the back of the grain trailer is kept pretty shiny.  (See what happens when you go from researcher to management!)
Over in the orchard the crew is continuing the installation of the nozzles of the Solid Set Canopy Delivery system.  Brian and Seth are now attaching the canister type delivery system.  It is a lot of work as the hose has to be cut and then these are fit back into the hose line.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two systems being tested here.  The ones in the back have the spray hoses attached directly to the overhead feeder hose. So the sprayed solution goes directly from the hose through the small hose and out the nozzles.  One nozzle is above the feeder hose and one is down in the canopy.  In the canisters (or whatever they are called, I probably should have checked), they are filled with the volume of spray to be applied, then air pressure cleans the lines and blows it out onto the trees.  As with the other system, one nozzle is above and one is down in the canopy. But this second system will apply the same amount per tree since the solution is pre-loaded into the volume of the canister.  So it is perhaps more accurate, but we will see.  What a test this will be.
Meanwhile back at the NCRS base, Stephanie and Jeff have been making some foliar applications, but now are loading up to do something different.  Recall that we are evaluating a new type of nitrogen side-dress system, the Y Drops.  See them on the front.  This applies fertilizer solutions right against the base of the corn row, which should be more readily taken up by the corn.
Here is the view from the cab, in a pic by Stephanie.  This is to evaluate the effects of late applications of nitrogen on corn.  These treatments space out the apps over an extended period of growth stages for comparison to the more traditional single earlier application.
So lot's going on.  And all of this will be on display at the Research Field Days.  Don't you dare miss it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wheat Harvest At Last

After a long wait due to rains and high humidity, wheat harvest started yesterday (Tuesday) at the NCRS.  Here is Jeff at the combine controls harvesting a plot on Farm 3.
After each 210 foot plot is harvested, the wheat is dumped into the scaled grain cart for weight determination.
Tim collects a sample for grain moisture and test weight.  He enters the weight into the iPad for instant data collection.  This is downloaded to the computer network, and with the plot grain moisture entered, actual yield will be determined.  It was downright pleasant at the NCRS yesterday after weeks of high temps and humidity.
Here is a look back at Jeff making a round to remove the border rows that we have between each plot in the five replications.  The borders prevent any influences from treatments applied in adjacent plots. We are scientists first after all.  They will be at it for a while as there are a number of different wheat plots on different NCRS farms.
After watching them work for awhile, I went over to Farm 7 where I will host the field-crop plot tour portion of the upcoming Research Field Days.  I was having tryouts of the different experiments over there to see what would be best to show on the tour.
There were a number of strong contenders.  Make sure you attend to see for yourself.  Tour details are at the website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Some Assembly Required

So how often do we see "some assembly required" on a purchase and know that there will be hours spent putting the thing together before it can be used?  Well that is the case for the Solid Set Canopy Delivery (SSCD) system being installed in the NCRS orchard.  This is a new system for delivery of pesticides, nutrients and even cooling water to an orchard, and it will replace having to run a sprayer through.  This can cut the application time down to minutes and keep it on target rather than going all over the place with a sprayer.  And we have neighbors, so this will be better.  But first it has to be put together.  Jacob installs the carrier pipe along the top wire.
The specialty crop crew puts the spray bodies, hoses and nozzles together.  There is one piece for each tree, and there are around 3000 trees, so you do the math.  Here we see intern Seth, NCRS researcher Jacob and interns Ryan and Matt in assembly mode.  They probably won't be looking for work in a plastic factory someday after weeks of this.
Brian cuts the pvc pipe into pieces for part of the body.  He was careful so we don't have to give him a nickname like "Lefty".
And here is the finished part, I think.  It will be attached to the overhead hose, and then the smaller hoses go down into the tree canopy and are set to spray the leaves.  There are actually two different designs that will be tested for these applications, including nutrient testing.
So you should be able to see it in action, well with water for demonstration, at the upcoming Research Field Days starting in late August.  This alone would be worth the trip.  See you there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eat and Learn

So Stephanie hit the road on a fertilizer mission of her own this week.  She is in Hayworth, IL at the Farm Journal Corn College.  This is an informational event to learn all about the science of growing corn. Stephanie participated as a lunch speaker.  In fact, she just sent me this picture.  Now the speakers aren't supposed to make it a commercial for a product, but she did have a wealth of research results to make her point.
Nice work Stephanie!  And if you are ever at one of her meetings, feel free to take out a sandwich and start eating.  Evidently she's used to it.

The Natural Look Has Friends.....and Enemies.

So hopefully you read the recent blog post about the prairie grass landscape around the AgroLiquid office here in St. Johns.  Well for a few weeks several people had said that they had seen a pair of young foxes out in the tall grass.  There had also been a hawk hanging around.  So we had up and become a wildlife refuge.  Well last Friday one of the foxes was laying on the rocks right next to the glass of one of the first floor work areas.  It created quite an interest as a number of us were right there watching and taking pictures.  He/she didn't care.  
 Tired of posing, time for a nap on the rock mattress.
On a related note, evidently not everyone liked the AgroLiquid natural landscape.  A neighbor or two strongly complained that they didn't like it one bit.  So in order to keep the peace, poor Troy asked that the front part of the property be mowed.  So it was, and here it is this morning.  The rest of the refuge was kept intact.  He said we would re-seed it this fall to bluegrass to look like all the other lawns. Only better.  But think of all the extra gallons of gas to be consumed mowing now.  Oh the humanity.
 So what side of the road are you on?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Always Room For More of Wyoming

So here is more from my Wyoming trip of last week.  The next day we were up by Riverton in Central Wyoming, where retailer Alan Lebsack lives.  Here is a large field of Malt Barley that has been fertilized with all AgroLiquid.  You will notice in the rest of the crop pictures that the fields seem to go forever.  Or at least half-way there.
 Dan the grower is pleased with the field, and said the brewer agronomists have given it a strong thumbs up so far.
 Wyoming had decent snow, but plenty of spring rain to enable the irrigation channels to be full and running. The water used is not from wells. The amount of silt in the water is a concern, but they are glad to have it.  Irrigation was not needed much before now as rain was ample.
This is a beautiful field of strip till sugarbeets grown with all AgroLiquid.
 Here is a picture of furrow irrigated alfalfa.  Furrow irrigated alfalfa? Well you can see the narrow furrows that carry water across this field, with the alfalfa up on the beds in between.  This field had just received a foliar application of Pro-Germinator + Kalibrate + accesS three days earlier.  With the high pH, sulfur needs to be applied.  The rate was 2 gal/A of accesS and there was no foliage burn at all.
 Like I showed recently when I was in California, you're often not far from desert ground.  Water and good bottom ground soil make a difference.
 Here was a herd of grazing horses.  Nothing to do with the crop tour, but I thought it was pretty.
And here is a field of corn, again with AgroLiquid.  The High NRG-N was all broadcast applied on the surface after planting as this is what worked best for him.  High NRG-N is be the best choice as it stays on the soil surface until carried in with moisture.
 And here is Dan's brother Dennis raking alfalfa hay prior to baling.  Their use of AgroLiquid for many years has enabled top production and quality.
So that was a good day of field visits.  I had to drive back to Casper to fly home the next morning. This short venture ahead wasn't exactly on the way, but worth the trip.  I may have shown the Wind River Canyon here before.  But it is spectacular to see.  It was formed by a regional uplift in the earth's crust and then the river washed away all of the sediment creating the canyon here.  As such, there is a lot of rock exposed from different geological era's.  This scene is actually a panoramic pic of the river canyon.
The heavy rains in the spring caused some land slides here.  You can see some from up high on the mountain ahead, and then also on the left that blocked the railroad for awhile.
 Look at this exposed granite that is from the Pre-Cambrian era.  Now the sign says 600 million years (ago), but that's when the era ended.  These rocks could be a billion years old.  But who's counting?
So well worth the 20 mile drive up and back.  On the North end of the canyon is the small town of Thermopolis, which claims to have the world's largest hot spring spa.  Been through there many times but not yet made a visit.  Maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


So in my post from last night, I showed this picture of the effects of soil sodium on corn growth.  And I said that it could be eventually corrected with applications of elemental sodium.  When of course I meant elemental sulfur.  Adding more sodium would be just plain discordant and incongruous. 
I must have been feeling the effects of sodium myself as I didn't catch the mistake. Thanks for pointing it out this morning, Dale.  It has been corrected.  Normally I wouldn't have bothered with such an announcement, but I didn't want to leave any errors in this blog that persists in the battle for truth, justice and the American way.